What Do Chameleons Eat? How To Feed A Chameleon Properly

a few months ago
What Do Chameleons Eat

You are probably new to chameleons and you are looking for tips on how to take care for chameleons. Well, there are a lot of different types of chameleons and not every chameleon can be kept like the other. However when it comes to chameleon food, all chameleons eat the same. A lot of insects!

However I know that you most probably need a little bit more information than that. Which insects? How many of them? How to feed a baby chameleon? How to feed an adult chameleon? Can I feed vegetables? Can I feed fruits? And probably a bunch of other questions go through your head right now.

Don´t worry, all of your questions will be answered with this article. Further you are about to read a very important information on chameleon diet that you are most probably not aware of ...uuhhh mysterious..lol.

So let´s get started!

A Healthy Chameleon Diet...

...consists of a lot of crawlies. If you are new to reptiles this might be a little weird and maybe a little bit disgusting to you. That´s absolutely okay. I felt a little bit weird as well when I bought the first crawlies for my reptile and stored them in my room. However that will change in a couple of weeks.

It will be totally normal to you to have boxes with crawlies in your house. Even if you are afraid to touch crickets now, you won´t be anymore in a month.... but back to the chameleons! 🙂

So chameleons should eat crickets, roaches, locusts and other insects. By the way, I have written specific diet guides for panther chameleons and for veiled chameleons. If you have one of these and need more specific information, click on the names.

You Should Offer Variety

Crickets are most probably the most popular feeder insects. That doesn´t mean that you should feed only them to your chameleon. In fact, crickets are not that healthy. There are feeder insects that are way healthier for your chameleon.

The dubia roach for example is way healthier than most feeder insects. I know, I know, it is a roach and most people do not like roaches. However dubia roaches are silent feeder insects unlike crickets. They can´t reproduce in your house if they escape because they need high humidity and high temperature at all times for that.

And, I say it again, they are healthy as hell for your chameleon. (Is hell healthy?)

Still, you should not feed the same feeder insects each and every week. You should offer a variety of feeder insects. Buy a box of crickets this week. A box of locusts next week and get some dubia roaches after that.

Flies are awesome as well. Release them in the chameleon tank and watch your chameleon shooting all the flies.

Dubia Roaches

Dubia roaches are one of the healthiest feeder insects. I highly recommend them!

Lees Kricket Keeper, Large

What About Worms?

Weeeeell... most of them are not that healthy. For example most people feed meal worms over and over again. The problem with that is that meal worms are not healthy at all and they are like the fast food among the feeder insects. Meaning your chameleon will get fat if you feed them too often.

Chameleons love meal worms and super worms and that´s why most people like to feed them, because their chameleon goes crazy over them.

If your chameleon is malnourished or sick and needs to gain some weight quickly, meal worms can help. Other than that there is not really a reason to feed them at all.

what can chameleons eat

A panther chameleon "shooting" a cricket.

What About Dry Food?

Dry food seems to be a good alternative if you don´t want to deal with feeding living crawlies. Chameleons should not eat dry food, though, and in most cases the chameleon will ignore the dry food.

The reason for that is that chameleons only eat living insects. They do not touch dead insects, because it is not healthy for them. A chameleon that eats dead insects is a very hungry chameleon.

Besides that chameleon only eat things that move.

Can Chameleons Eat Fruits And Vegetables?

Have you seen those cute videos on Youtube where a person shares a banana with a chameleon? Cute, right? It really is, but unfortunately it is not that healthy for chameleons.

You might say now: "But everybody does it, and fruits and vegetables are healthy, you are wrong!"

Okay let me explain to you why you should not feed fruits and vegetables. Let´s start with fruits. Fruits contain a lot of sugar. Should a healthy chameleon eat sugar? It shouldn´t. A banana, for example, is very high in sugar and because of the consistency, can be dangerous for your chameleon. Actually your chameleon can get impacted from that.

What about vegetables. Most vegetables contain a lot of water. While chameleons definitely should be well hydrated at all times, too much water can lead to diarrhea. Diarrhea leads to dehydration. 

how to feed a chameleon

A veiled chameleon disturbed by a locust

So feeding a chameleon with fruits and vegetables most is not really healthy most of the times. Mostly it will irritate their digestion.

Most chameleons only get around 5 years old, why put them in danger and potentially shorten their life expectancy with feeding this stuff?

Besides that, most chameleons only eat greens or fruits when they are dehydrated. So making sure that your chameleon is dehydrated is what really matters here.

Chameleons need vitamins though and here is how you feed your chameleon very healthy stuff.

Gut Loading Is The Answer!

So chameleons should get vitamins from vegetables and fruits without feeding them vegetables and fruits. How to do that? Easy! Feed the feeder insects with fruits and vegetables before feeding the insects to your chameleon.

Here is how you do that, you can see this as a recipe for healthy chameleon food. Get some crickets, locusts or roaches and put them in a cricket feeder box like this one. In this box the feeder insects will have a lot of space.

Sometimes the insects attack each other in the small feeder boxes you get from pet shops. The result is a lot of dead feeder insects. In the end that´s a waste of money.

Lee´s Kricket Keeper

Excellent for housing feeder insects and keeping them alive and healthy.

Exo Terra Cricket Pen

Okay you have your feeder insects in the feeder box. Now put some healthy fruits and vegetables for the insects in it. Don´t use any moldy food or food that you were about to throw away. Make sure that the fruits and vegetables are fresh and don´t get moldy in the box.

After eating veggies or fruits, your feeder insects are gut loaded which means they are full of vitamins. Your chameleon will absorb those vitamins when digesting the feeder insects.

chameleon eating

How Often Should You Feed Chameleons

That depends on your chameleon´s age. Baby chameleons should eat every day. They are growing quickly and will eat a lot. When I say a lot I mean even more than a lot. A full box of micro crickets is a daily meal for most baby chameleons. Of course, this depends on the type of chameleon you have.

Adult chameleons should not be fed every day. You should feed your adult chameleon 5 days per week.

Chameleons can get fat without you even noticing it. Their organs get fat. This can lead to horrible diseases and very often those diseases cause death. I am talking about fatty-liver disease for example.

So even though your chameleon would most probably eat every day, you should definitely have fasting days.

What Size Should The Feeder Insects Have?

You should not feed too large feeder insects. Feeder insects that are too large can cause injuries at the mouth or irritate your chameleon´s digestion. It can happen that your chameleon isn´t able to eat huge insects and the insect comes out undigested. Nasty and not healthy.

If you have one of those beautiful, majestic, sophisticated parson´s chameleons (too much?), you can feed them large locusts and huge roaches. Panther chameleons and veiled chameleons should eat medium sized feeder insects, for example.

Rule of thumb is the feeder insect should not be bigger than the width of your chameleon´s mouth. Hope that sentence made sense ... sorry, English isn´t my mother tongue.

Just make sure that it fits into your chameleon´s mouth easily. The insects should not be too small either, your chameleon will not eat them then.

chameleon food

A majestic parson´s chameleon. Very rare!

How Much Should Your Chameleon Eat?

This depends on a lot of different things. What type of chameleon do you have? How old is your chameleon? How big are the feeder insects?

While baby chameleons should eat a lot every day, you shouldn´t feed too many feeder insects to your adult chameleon. As I said, they get fat quickly.

If you have a panther chameleon or a veiled chameleon you should feed around 5 medium sized feeder insects on a feeding day.

How To Feed Your Chameleon

This depends on the feeder insect and on you. If you are brave, you can feed your chameleon with your bare hands. You can also feed with tweezers.

Some chameleons might accidentally shoot the tweezers or your fingers instead of the insect. Most chameleons do not let go then and this can hurt their tongue. So you might be on the safe side if you just put a box with the feeder insects inside the chameleon cage.

Tweezers

If you want to "tame" your chameleon. Feeding the chameleon with tweezers will help. 

Zoo Med Stainless Steel Feeding Tongs

Some insects attack your chameleon so I would not just release them inside the cage. Except for flies.

The cricket pen of this cricket feeder box will help you to get the feeder insects out of the box. This way now insect can escape and run around in your house.

Conclusion

Watching a chameleon hunting food with their awesome tongue is amazing and it fascinates me every time I feed my chameleon. As you see, feeding a chameleon is pretty easy. The feeding depends on the type of chameleon you have though.

I hope this article helped you and answered your question "What Do Chameleons Eat?" properly. If you have any questions, leave a message in the comment section below and I will get back to you as soon as possible.

Pierre

About the Author

Pierre

Hey! I am Pierre. I own bearded dragons and many other reptiles for a very long time. I know from experience that it can be very hard to find the right information about a specific reptile, since there is so much misinformation out there.That´s why I created this website. To help other people to have the best time with their reptiles.

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